By Tiri Masawi
Windhoek - Namibia will now be issuing free visa on arrival to more African countries outside the SADC region on a pilot project meant to promote free movement of people in line with the African Union plan to promote inter-regional trade.
The move is expected to continue until more African countries can travel freely with less restrictions to Namibia in the near future.
Namibian Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Stanley Simataa, said the Namibian cabinet took the decision to widen the number of African citizens that can now freely come to his country on a tourist or visitors’ visas without application as part of showing commitment to a united Africa where goods and services can move freely.
Countries that will benefit from the free visa entry will include holders of diplomatic passports from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, and Saharawi.
Countries that will benefit from the initiative outside the African continent include Kazakhstan, Luxemburg, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Macau, Iceland, India, France Germany and Japan.
"We believe this move will bring us closer to the dream of uniting Africans as envisaged by our forebear era. We also believe that tourism will benefit," he said. Simataa said Namibia will start implementing the project in earnest while the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is expected to actualise the process in the next two months when they digitalise their system.
Simataa also added that Namibia’s move to allow more Africans from outside SADC to have an easy entry into Namibia was also hinged on the greater good of promoting cross pollination of ideas and inter-relationships between Africans.
As part of the implementation of a new visa regime, Namibia has also taken on the task of changing the names of Wenela Border post between the country and Zambia to Katima Mulilo Border post as well as Kamenga Border Post to Singalamwe Border Post.
“Cabinet directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to formally communicate to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation on the above mentioned renaming of the border posts in order for the said ministry to inform neighbouring countries and other relevant international players,” he said.